Harvesting barley

Food We Produce

Malting Barley

Holkham has a long tradition of growing both winter and spring barley for the brewing industry. Indeed, it is said that the maritime micro-climate found in the north Norfolk area makes for superlative malting barley that has been prized by brewers for many years.

Spring Barley
In spring 2013, Holkham entered into an exclusive deal with world famous, Southwold-based brewer Adnams, to supply approximately 75% of the malt to be used by the brewery for their brewing and distilling, with Holkham growing a specific variety, Concerto, expressly for Adnams. This approach to local sustainability of supply of good quality barley from field to brewery was driven by Boortmalt, a leading Suffolk maltster based in Bury St. Edmunds with Adnams and Boortmalt working together to source a local supply of quality malting barley.

The arrangement suits both parties – Adnams knows what the quality of the grain will be, and Holkham knows it has a guaranteed market for most of its crop. Adnams takes spring barley in preference to winter barley as the spring crop has a dual purpose – it can be used to make beer, but it can also be distilled to make spirits. The brewers are committed to producing quality products sustainably for long term success. Adnams’ relationship with Holkham means that the company can increase the transparency of its supply chain for both farmer and brewer. The relationship forged between the two companies also means that volatility in the grain markets and the variation in the quality of malting barley from year to year, can be managed successfully.

Click here to read the Adnams press release.

Winter Barley
Winter barley, on the other hand, goes only to make beer. It also has the attraction that it fits really well into Holkham Farming Company’s crop rotation scheme. It is planted in mid-September into fields that have grown potatoes. After growing through the winter and spring, it is harvested early, around the third and fourth week of July, which leaves plenty of time to condition the soil before it is next planted with oil seed rape in mid-August.

Crisp Malting Group in nearby Great Ryburgh recently secured a contract to malt barley, the process barley grain has to go through before it can be used to brew beer, with the brewer Marston’s - at the heart of the British brewing industry, Martson’s are based in Burton-on-Trent. Crisps in turn contacted Holkham to source a regular supply of the barley variety Flagon to go exclusively to Marston’s. Holkham Farming Company knew that it couldn’t supply all the tonnage that Crisps required itself, so in conjunction with Crisps, Dewing Grain and H C Banhams, Holkham contacted all the tenant farmers who farm estate land to ask them if they would like to be involved in growing winter barley so that the total tonnage supplied to Crisps would meet requirements. Holkham farm manager, James Beamish, is hopeful that some of the estate’s tenants will come on board and he sees the contract with Crisps as good for all concerned. Much like with the Adnams contract, if specification is met ,all parties involved are assured of a guaranteed market. The tenant farmers who choose to join the scheme will receive a premium on their grain prices, instead of taking their chances on the open market and Crisps, and ultimately Marston’s, will know exactly where their barley is coming from and the quality they can expect. Overall, this means that there is traceability and provenance, all the way through from farm to pint, which is a big part of the marketing that Marston’s is undertaking.

Click here to read the Marston’s press release.

Malting Barley and Maltesers!
And last, but by no means least, our barley also goes into the production of malt at Munton’s Malt in Stowmarket which makes the honeycombed centres of Maltesers.